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Auction 14: Americana

Lots 61-63: Bernhardt Wall Etchings, Wyandot Poetry

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61. WALKER, Bernard N. O. Yon-Doo-Shah-We-Ah (Nubbins). By Hen-Toh (Wyandot). Oklahoma City: Harlow Publishing Co., 1924. [6] 73 pp., photographic frontispiece of author in tribal dress, text vignettes throughout. 12mo, original brown pictorial cloth. Light shelf wear, top edges a bit rough where opened carelessly, faint marginal waterstaining to text, text block split between pp. 30-31 (but holding strong). A good to very good copy.
    First edition. Hen-Toh (1870-1927), whose birth name was Bertrand N. O. Walker, was a Wyandot writer of exceptional talent. His works were never widely circulated and are little known to the reading public today. From 1890 until his death in 1927, Hen-Toh worked in the Indian Service except for brief intervals. He taught for ten years in federal Indian schools in California and Arizona and at the Seneca Industrial School near his home. After 1901 he was a clerk at various Indian agencies but spent most of his time at the Quapaw Agency, which served the Wyandots. This was his last book, and it is much scarcer than his first book (Tales from the Bark Lodges). In these poems, Hen-Toh employed dialect humor, long popular among Native American writers who were born in the old Indian Territory.

62. WALL, Bernhardt. Following Andrew Jackson 1767–1845. Lime Rock [but Houston, according to Wall’s notes on inserted etcher’s slip], 1937. 46 colored etchings on heavy wove paper (plus cover etching and etcher’s slip), most signed in pencil by Wall. Small 4to, original grey cloth over plain grey boards, etching on upper cover (hand bound by Wall). 2 etchings detached. Very fine in Wall’s grey dust wrapper with etched paper label on spine (jacket slightly browned). Signed presentation copy: “To Harold D. Hahl, Esq., with my best regards and wishes. Bernhardt Wall, May 3, 1937.” Preserved in Wall’s grey board and grey cloth case (with old tape reinforcement that should be removed).

     Limited edition (#3 of 100 copies). Weber, Following Bernhardt Wall, p. 43: “The plates for this book were etched at Houston and printed and bound at Lime Rock [etcher’s printed slip in this copy indicates this copy was created entirely in Houston]. It is dedicated to Herbert Godwin, Esq., ‘Tennessean by birth, Texan by adoption, a public-spirited citizen and lover of the arts.’”

One of the plates has a tipped-in two-cent postage stamp with Jackson’s portrait.

Trial Issue with 261 Etchings by Bernhardt Wall

63. WALL, Bernhardt. The Odyssey of the Etcher of Books. Sierra Madre, California, 1945. 261 etchings on heavy laid paper (almost all in colors), interleaved with protective tissue sheets bearing Wall’s manuscript ink number at top right of each sheet, many of the etchings signed by Wall. 4to, original green cloth over binding board, small gilt square at each corner of covers, 2 gilt-lettered cloth spine labels. Front joint with three small splits, upper hinge cracked (stitching is strong), occasional mild browning not affecting plates.

A fine copy in original plain tan dust wrapper with etched paper spine label. The etchings are uniformly pristine.

     Limited edition (trial copy #4 of 8, in an edition of 50 signed copies). Wall’s etched slip tipped in at front states that the plates were etched in Connecticut, Florida, Texas, and Tennessee, but printed and bound by him in Sierra Madre. Weber, Following Bernhardt Wall, p. 44 (noting that the regular edition contained only 27 plates, but commenting that a collector has a copy with “no fewer than 260 etchings”). This book is one of the more unusual books in conception, design, illustration, and binding.

The Odyssey contains the etchings Wall considered his best and most representative work, including his dramatic large-size portrait of Abraham Lincoln, generally conceded to be his top print. If a collector or library is confined to owning only one etched book by Wall, this is the one.

     In Walliana, Wall describes the book as “The best of my etchings in Prose, Poetry and Pictures, done in 30 years of the art of etching.” Lowman, Printing Arts in Texas, p. 28: “[Wall (1872-1953) was] a gentle, patient, sensitive man who was, by any standard, a well-rounded artisan.

Wall wrote and illustrated his books, designed them, etched the plates, printed and signed each etching, then cut, folded, gathered, sewed, bound, lettered, and labeled them.”

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